Theatre Review: “L’importance d’être sérieux” at the Théâtre Montparnasse

Limportancedetreserieux2Don’t be put off by the poor translation of the title of the Oscar Wilde classic “The Importance of Being Earnest” (I would have used the word “sincère” rather than “sérieux” personally), this new translation by Jean-Marie Besset with direction from Gilbert Désveaux is excellent. There are so many great lines in here – and very well-translated I’d add  – that there was ne’er a dull moment during the 90 or so minutes of the show. The acting was excellent as well. I especially appreciated Arnaud Denis’ Algermon Moncrieff because of his subtle hints at the character’s ambiguous sexuality without ever being overt about it. His playfulness with Lane (played by Mathieu Brion who also plays Merriman to a “T”) was hilarious. The cast featured brother and sister (?) Mathieu Bisson as John Worthing and Mathilde Bisson as Cecily Cardew, both of who were great (and I was relieved that they were not one of the romantically-involved couples!). The Cecily character was played with lovely abandon and grace, whereas John Worthing was hapless but sincere. Miss Prism was played by Margaret Zenou and was OK, while Rev. Canon Chasuble and Lady Bracknell were played by Claude Aufaure – the Lady Bracknell character was brilliant. Rounding out the cast was the lovely Marilyne Fontaine as Gwendolen Fairfax which she pulls off with ease and beauty. The decors were original – I loved the divan in Moncrieff’s pad and the setting sun in the country house of Worthing. The story is, of course, extraordinary with so many twists and turns and surprises, but also sad when we think of the potential of what Oscar Wilde could have written after this had it not led directly to his public exposure and imprisonment. If you get a chance before it closes, “L’importance d’être sérieux” merits your time at the Théêtre Montparnasse and will leave you entertained and smiling and convinced on the importance of being Earnest.

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About mfinocchiaro

IT Architecture Guru for large PLM software company but dabbling in Web 2.0 and other stuff.
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4 Responses to Theatre Review: “L’importance d’être sérieux” at the Théâtre Montparnasse

  1. Arnaud Denis says:

    Thank you very much for this very well formulated review. This is our first ‘english written’ critic, which means a lot to me, since I have been an Oscar Wilde fan since I can’t remember (in the original text). Having an english speaking member of the audience appreciate, in french, an originally english written text, is surely a gratifying compliment.

    Sincerely,
    Arnaud Denis

    • mfinocchiaro says:

      Hi Arnaud,
      Thanks for the comment – and the compliment! I was thoroughly entertained by your performance and would like to know what shows you will be doing next 🙂

  2. Wilde proves once and for all time that the pun can indeed be elevated to a high art form. Throughout the entire play we have the double meaning of the word “earnest,” almost to the level of a conceit, since many of the play’s twists and turns deal with the efforts of Jack and Algernon to be “Ernest,” by lying, only to discover that circumstances makes honest men of them in the end (and of the women for that matter as well). There is every reason to believe that Wilde was making a point about earnestness being a key ideal of Victorian culture and one worthy of being thoroughly and completely mocked. Granted, some of the puns are really bad, and the discussion of “Bunburying” is so bad it is stands alone in that regard, but there is a sense in which the bad ones only make the good ones so glorious and emphasize that Wilde is at his best while playing games with the English language.

  3. Pingback: The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays | Peter J Verdil

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